Mario Cuomo, is being remembered as the eloquent New York governor who just loved to be the hardest working governor. As a Democrat, he was the governor of New York from 1983 to 1995, and despite being a favorite contender for US presidency and receiving numerous offers for other high government positions, opted just to serve New York.
The former governor was hospitalized for heart treatment in November. He succumbed to heart failure on New Year’s day in his home in Manhattan, as confirmed by son Chris Cuomo to CNN. The Democrat Party darling was 82.
Cuomo served three terms as NY governor. The seat is now occupied by his son Andrew, who is in his second term. The incumbent governor hinted about his father’s poor health during his second inauguration.
When asked how he liked to be remembered, Mario Cuomo replied that he wanted to be the hardest working governor ever. Born to Italian immigrants Andrea and Immaculata in Queens, New York on Jun. 15, 1932, Cuomo’s first love was baseball. He played a single season for the Brunswick Pirates, the minor league team of Pittsburgh Pirates, when a scout described him as a potential best prospect. He signed a $2,000 contract, but an injury forced him to put his sports career on the side. He went to law school and was on top of his class in St. John’s University, Queens.
A Democratic Party favorite for the presidency, Cuomo turned down several invitations for presidency, saying he did not think he was good enough for the office. Mario Cuomo, is being remembered as the eloquent New York Governor who, on Jul. 16, 1984, was tossed to national fame, when he delivered a rousing speech about a tale of two cities at the Democratic Convention in San Francisco. He attacked then President Ronald Reagan’s declaration of the country as a shining city on a hill, saying it is more a tale of two cities.
Cuomo highlighted the realities of inequality and poverty in his speech. He said President Reagan has turned his back on struggling citizens, saying a shining city might be what the president sees from the White House and his ranch’ veranda where all seemed to be doing well. Cuomo added, the other side of the shining city had more poor people, troubled families, and where many sought help but could not find it.
The NY governor became the main topic of the convention, overshadowing some other figures. Amidst the excitement of the evening, many of his colleagues failed to notice that the person they talked about already left for his home in Albany.
Many then assumed he was eyeing on the presidential seat. People poured their memories of the NY governor, saying they remember his speech well and how they wanted him to run for president.
Cuomo is noted for his love of learning and restless intellect. He seemed to be inexhaustible as people around him, including reporters, found he picked his own phone on Friday evenings, saying he was getting less sleep as he worked all the time, though he remarked he was not saying that was a virtue. Cuomo loved to cite Jesuit priest and French theologian Teilhard de Chardin, who wrote that endeavors should be based for the greater good of God and mankind, instead of personal ambitions. Otherwise, it can be a sin.
Mario Cuomo’s departure from life triggers countless reminisces to a lot of people. Former governor Paterson said Cuomo’s legacy is defined by his lifelong dedication to New York and its people. Rev. Al Sharpton released a statement that the country and civil rights lovers just lost the last New York politics titan who was an authentic statesman.
Cuomo’s former aide, Stephanie Cutter, shared how Cuomo went against running for president in 1991. He left a chartered plane on a tarmac in New York that was supposed to take him to file for Democratic nomination in New Hampshire.
The governor was awarded “Lifetime Achievement Award” in the 2013 New York Law Journal for his accomplishments and profound impact on the law. Cuomo was the longest-serving governor from the Democratic party in NY’s contemporary history, winning two largest victories ever. He likewise was commended for creating the first public officials ethic laws. He was recognized for appointing the first two women judges to the Court of Appeals, as well as its first woman chief judge, Judith Kaye, who is also a Lifetime Achievement award winner.
People admire him for his sense of fairness and as a public official who knew what he was doing. When offered by President Bill Clinton for a Supreme Court seat, he declined because he wanted to be in politics.
Mario Cuomo will always be remembered as a political icon and the eloquent New York governor. President Obama venerated him for his life of public service, saying his story teaches Americans that they are bound to be one people and that the country’s success depends not on the success of the fortunate few, but of everyone.
By Judith Aparri
Photo courtesy of Mariano Cuajao – Flickr License